There are a lot of things about college that are way different from high school, that totally goes without saying. You're miles away from home, just to begin with. Or maybe you're not, but you're still surrounded by a million new people and a million new things and thousands more opportunities. Here are a few things I've learned so far in college that I wish someone had told me:
1. Your Immune System is NOT a Brick Wall
If you never, ever got sick in high school and you're thinking that college is going to be the same way, think again. There's new people, a new atmosphere, and new germs. I never got sick in high school, but here I am battling a cold in the middle of Philadelphia! I'm telling you, bring along some medicine and DRINK WATER. Seriously, do everything you can to keep yourself healthy; you'll be happy about it later.
2. Take Advantage of FREE Things
It's no secret that college is really expensive, but if you go to the right kind of university, you'll be surrounded by weird little free things that you should take advantage of! Seriously. Utilize things that are free to students, even if you don't feel like you need to. You'll use that free water bottle, I promise you. Learn how to manage your money! You won't be sorry you did.
3. People Who Suck in High School Will Not Magically Change
It's just a fact of life. Some people get totally stuck in the glory days of high school. Let them be. It's not necessarily a bad thing to have loved your high school days and love the memories you've made - in fact, it's a good thing. Just know that the people who were miserable and mean in high school are probably going to be miserable and mean in college. Attitude is everything - make sure yours is good.
4. Call Your Parents
You're going to miss them, even if you don't think you will. You're going to miss home cooked meals and chicken noodle soup when you're sick and you're even going to miss stepping on your brother's legos. (OK, only a little, those things really hurt.) Call your family. Tell them you miss them. Tell them you love them. You'll only feel good about it.
5. Engage With Other People
Making friends in college is a lot like making friends in elementary school - if you're pleasant and just make conversation, boom you've got someone to wave hi to in passing. You may even find that the kid that sits next to you in English is tons of fun and maybe you'll become friends. Even if you're in a lecture with five or six hundred people, say hi to the person next to you. There's a very slim chance they won't say hi back.
6. Make Friends Outside of your Major
There are so many people on a college campus, it's not hard to find someone who is similar - or different - than you. You spend a lot of time with the people in your major, but it's important to get to know other people's views and branch out sometimes. There's no shortage of people to talk to and meet. Join some clubs! It's the easiest way to find people who like the same things. And, it'll get you out of your room!
7. You Live With the People on your Floor
What I mean by this is: don't leave your laundry in the dryer, respect quiet hours, and step outside your room sometimes. It's pointless to start petty drama with the people on your floor, because you have to live with them. Seriously. Go outside and make friends with the people next door to you - they've got you when you need some sugar or a spoon.
8. Make Friends with the RA
They're only there to help you. Unless they've totally got it out for you, they'll probably leave you alone. But it's a really good idea to get on good terms with them, because they know their way around campus and will tell you a bunch of cool stuff if you ask the right questions. Don't try to fight them on everything. It'll only get you written up when something goes wrong.
9. Find Time to do Something for Yourself
Living with a roommate and being constantly surrounded by people can be fun, but make sure you find some time alone. Whether that be walking to get some coffee, finding a quiet little reading corner, or doing something nice for yourself. It's important to keep yourself grounded, especially when you're surrounded by so much excitement. Do yoga or go to the park! Do anything! Your body and mind will thank you.
10. You Don't Have to be the Same Person You Were in High School
When everyone tells you that college is different from high school, listen to them. It so is. You can totally reinvent yourself if you want to. Embrace the changes and be who YOU want to be.
11. No One Cares
What I mean by this is: if you want to go get pizza in your pajamas at 12 AM, really, no one cares. In high school it's easy to get caught up in wanting to look cool and making sure everyone likes you, etc. In college, no one else really cares what you do, which is kind of great. You can dress up for class, or you can wear sweats. You can do both in one week. No one's gonna bat an eye.
12. GO OUT
Going out does NOT have to mean partying. Going out to the movies or to dinner with your friends or just to do something fun is really important. Don't stay holed up in your room. Just find some time to laugh. And if partying is what you want to do, then do it. (Just study Sunday through Thursday!) It doesn't make a difference what it is you do. No one will care if you don't go to the party, and similarly, no one's going to judge if you do. Just get out sometimes.
13. Do Your Homework - Save Online Shopping for When ou're Done
We all have computers, and it's really easy to get bored of writing that essay or doing the readings and way more fun to online shop or check Twitter. Resist the urge. The sweater is not going to sell out in the next five minutes. If you get your homework done now, you have more time for fun later. Studying now means that when your friends want to go for ice cream, you can say yes.
14. Do the Readings
Pop quizzes are totally a thing. Even if you think it's not going to make a difference if you read the article, it really is.
15. HAVE FUN
You're in college first and foremost, to learn. You should be doing a lot of learning - about the subjects you study, about the world, and about yourself. In between all that learning, find some time to have fun. Like I said before: Having fun doesn't need to mean going out. Just find time to laugh and talk and engage with other people. Netflix will still be there - the opportunity to make a memory won't. But, opportunities will keep coming. Go out and seize one.